OVRS_iStock_000010445496_LargeCats share our homes and our hearts. In fact, they retain the position of #1 among common household pets in the United States. That is probably why many of us choose to share our homes with two or more cats and have, perhaps, been challenged by passive and overt aggression between our feline companions.

Unfortunately, household cat conflicts are quite common.  Social tension between housemate cats may cause overt aggression or manifest as elimination outside the litter box.  These issues between cats in the home motivate pet owners to seek out help in the form of behavioral consultation (aggression or elimination problems are the most common reasons for behavioral consultation when it comes to cats). When cat conflicts cannot be resolved or seem to present too many disturbances in the home, many of these cats are sadly surrendered to shelters.

This unfortunate reality is what prompted OVRS’ Dr. Theresa DePorter to seek out a solution. Over the last two years, there are have been three phases of this research to learn more about cats that do not get along and how to help them. Currently Dr DePorter is accepting households to participate in this final phase. The 2015 trial includes a longer treatment period and compares efficacy of two similar formulations. Participants must be enrolled before the end of April.

Clinical Study Results

In 2013, Dr. Theresa DePorter, Oakland Veterinary Referral Service’s Veterinary Behavioral Specialist, set out to conduct a study to explore household cat aggression and how these conflicts could be resolved. She proposed that the introduction of a synthetic pheromone developed by Ceva Animal Health would, in essence, dissuade the cats from aggressive behaviors and placate their territorial responses.

Pheromones are what might be described as a feline’s means of communication. Pheromones are the basis of your cat’s urge to rub, scratch, and urine spray, for example.

The 45 cat-owning households selected for the study were prescreened for marked conflicts or aggression between household members. This included passive behaviors such as staring, physical blocking, and posturing and more overt aggressive behaviors, like hissing, scratching, and biting.

Over a period of 28 days, diffusers emitting the pheromone (or, in the case of 20 of the households, a placebo) were used. Participants recorded their daily behavioral observations and were asked to record frequency and intensity of aggressive behaviors. Weekly  assessments were made using the Oakland Feline Social Interaction Scale to rate these behaviors.

The results of the study affirmed what Dr. DePorter expected would occur. There was a significant reduction in aggressive behaviors in the households using the pheromone. The introduction of the pheromone seemed to signal a positive response and aid in reconciliation within the household.

This is especially encouraging in maintaining cats in their households and minimizing surrender to shelters, as well as encouraging adoptions of adult cats.

Improving Cat Conflicts – Can’t They Learn to Get Along?

If you have experienced conflict between your household felines, you may have assumed that time would remedy the problem. You may have tried to bridge any social skirmishes by keeping your cats separated or through at-home behavior modifications, only to continue having to deal with cats who cannot keep the peace.

For dedicated cat guardians, this experience may prove to be disheartening and frustrating.

The results of these clinical trials and behavior consultations give us hope though. We’re now confident that it is possible to cultivate harmony in the home through the use of this new pheromone formulation and to mitigate the aggressive urges that once created so many feline challenges.

A Call for 2015 Clinical Trial Participants: Improvement of Aggression Between Housemate Cats

If you are located in southeast Michigan and would like to include your feuding felines in Dr. DePorter’s new 2015 clinical trials, we invite you to review the enrollment qualifications, as well as additional information and an outline of the study. Contact Dr. DePorter’s research-dedicated email address: TheresaDVM@aol.com.

You can also read more about the purpose of the study and ways you can help alleviate some of the behavioral challenges between your cats through Dr. DePorter’s article, Resolving Social Conflict Between Familiar Cats.

For more information about Oakland Veterinary Referral Services and its Behavior Medicine department, please contact us. We welcome your inquiries.